It’s fashionable to bash Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but I confess I’m a fan. At their best, they represent the sort of flamboyant vulgarity that is its own reward. I think their style misleads some into thinking all examples are equivalent, but I’d suggest their outré character makes things like balance and scale more important than many other, perhaps more forgiving, wine styles. When Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc goes off the rails, it really shows.
All of which is a less than promising introduction to this wine, made by a Hawkes Bay winery from Marlborough fruit. From what I understand, 2008 wasn’t a spectacular year, many wines showing the challenges of the vintage. This is the first I’ve tried, and it’s not a disaster by any means, but it is firmly tilted towards the sort of herbal grassiness I associate more with Margaret River than Marlborough, and which I have trouble with in excessive quantities.
On the nose, typically forthright yet showing a strident grassiness that sits atop the aroma profile, dominating other notes of crisp passionfruit and gooseberry. This somehow makes it more astringent yet duller at the same time; not a great outcome. It says something for the resilience of this style that, despite the odd balance, this wine is still quite clearly a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The palate shows a softer wine that, whist remaining shackled to grassy notes, also remains quite drinkable through clever winemaking. By tempering any excess of acidity, the winemakers have softened this wine’s inherently astringent flavour profile to the point where it goes down quite easily. It continues to lack substance in terms of fruit notes, but it’s crisp and clean and refreshing. One could do a lot worse.
As an aside, I must come up with some form of shorthand for “Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc,” as it’s quite cumbersome to type over and over again. Any suggestions?
Date tasted: December 2008